Bismillah Ar RAhman Ar Raheem, wa Alhamdulillahi rabbi Ala'lameen wa salaatu wa salaamu 'ala An anbiya min Adam wa Muhammad.
In the name of Almighty God, the most gracious, the most merciful. All praise be to almighty God the lord and cherisher of all worlds, and my peace and blessings of Almighty God be on all the prophets from Adam to Muhammad.
This is my first attempt at "blogging" so I hope all who read it may find it interesting and feel free to comment if you like insha'Allah. I am an American Muslim. I embraced Islam while in college at Ashland University in Ohio after having taken a class on Islam there. Now many people, both Muslims and non-Muslims, are baffled as to why so many people, and according to some reports more so than ever, are coming to Islam in the United States of America regardless of the seemingly ever growing animosity between the Islamic world and the west. So, as one of those people, I will do my best to explain my reasoning behind that as well as how I feel about this animosity between the U.S. and Islam, both of which I hold so dear to me.
First of all, as someone who was raised in a suto-Christian environment, choosing Islam was not a matter of rejecting my previous beliefs and replacing them with new ones. Embracing Islam was a natural "evolution" from a Christian background. Like many Americans, Christian theology simply wasn't answering all the questions I had about many things such as the origins of the universe, overall comprehensive purpose of human life and the role of Jesus Christ, peace be upon him. Islam answered those questions and then some. Islam taught me that most of what I already believed, whether they be things taught to me or things I came to believe through my own logic, were correct. Islam and Christianity are really only separated in theology by details surrounding the purpose of Jesus Christ (pbuh). However my purpose in this article is not to primarily to discuss theological differences between Islam and Christianity.
One of the many effects that becoming Muslim had on me, was deepening my love and patriotism for my country, the United States of America. This may come as a shock to both non-Muslims and Muslims alike. But the truth is, I found that many of the fundamental principles that the U.S. was founded upon, are also Islamic principles. Especially the idea of equality under the law for all, no matter what class, status, position of power, or anything. Also when I read the constitution of the United States as a Muslim, I see in it a nation that is amazing compatible with the fundamental principles of government in Islam. There are many parallels such as the Caliph being one chosen to lead based on his knowledge and credentials, not based on his family name or social status. Also that the leadership of the Caliph is tempered by a "Shura" or consensus of leaders, many times chosen regionally, much like that of a "congress". However, most importantly is that in Islamic law no one, not even the Caliph, is above the law, and there is no special status given to any human being based on any kind of status. The Caliph is chosen by the Muslims of the Ummah (nation), to lead them, to protect them with the army if necessary, and to represent them to the world. This to me is extremely close to that of a president in our country.
These examples are only a few of the countless things that make Islam and American democracy are perfectly compatible. But, probably the most compelling evidence for me and for those around me, is that I am a living embodiment of it. Some say that America and the Muslim world is heading towards a huge clash of civilizations, but I am living, breathing, walking, and talking proof that these two "civilizations" are perfectly compatible. Perfectly compatible that is, in their "pure" form.
America needs to get back to it's roots. In this year of 2008, as we watch the campaign for the next president of the United States, we all as Americans desperately need to remember what the original and true purpose of our great country was. It was to be a republic for those seeking freedom from big government, and imperial persecution. To be an oasis for those around the world, regardless of their background, to come and prosper on an even playing field. This great country was not founded to simply become another empire like the one it went to war with for it's freedom. However, that is exactly what is has become. The American government needs to realize that our safety is only hurt by constantly involving ourselves in the turbulent middle east. If America stopped worrying about all it's interests abroad, and concentrated on serving the American people, like it was originally designed to do, than everyone would be better off.
As for Muslims living in this country, I must just say this, "WAKE UP!!!" I can't say enough that I love all my brothers and sisters for the sake of Allah, but the Muslims living in this country need to realize the great blessing they have to be living in this land. They have the opportunity to work and make a living for their families that they couldn't dream of in their home countries. They have the opportunity to practice and most importantly to learn their religion in an environment free from political influence. They have the opportunity to interact with people from many different backgrounds that could help them to better understand their place in the world, and the profound nature and truth of Islam. Muslims in this country need to stop isolating themselves in concentrated communities in which they try to shield themselves from as much contact as possible with the greater non-Muslim community. Likewise, they need to learn to interact with the greater society more effectively, WITHOUT compromising their faith. Interacting and assimilating in America is NOT about shaving your beard, taking off the hijab, engaging in riba (interest that is usury) in business, selling and dealing or even worse drinking alcohol, women wearing tight sexy clothes in public, guys wearing sagging jeans and "bling".......these things are not what "fitting in" in America is about!!! It is about embracing the true American principle of equal opportunity to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, which is also a fundamental Islamic principle. Muslims need to realize that to be a citizen or a permanent resident of this country, means making an oath to be a contributing member of the countries population. In Islam when you make an oath, you MUST keep it. If you don't then you absolutely must repent (make taubah) and the expiation (kaffarah) for it. Allah says in the Qur'an, "Allah will not hold you accountable for that which is unintentional in your oaths, but He will hold you accountable for your deliberate oaths. The expiation of such oath is feeding of ten poor persons on a scale of the average for the food of your families; or clothe them; or give a slave his freedom. If it is beyond your means, fast for three days. That is the expiation for the oaths you have sworn. Guard your oaths. Thus Allah does make clear to you His signs, that you may be grateful." And yes this is a deliberate oath because you are aware of it when you go thru the process of immigration. If you are not willing to make that oath, that's ok, but don't live in this country. In Islam it is forbidden to make oaths to leaders who would prevent you from practicing your religion; the United States does not fall into this category. In fact, freedom of religious practice is a fundamental part of what America is.
In conclusion, people on both sides of this so called "clash of civilizations", need to go back to the roots of their ideologies and when they do they will find that there really is no clash of civilization, and that if we could only realize that, then ultimately we have a lot more in common then we do in difference.
As I said making oaths in Islam is a sacred thing. I make the oath " I bear witness that there is no god but God, and I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger of God". And, also in keeping with being an American Muslim I say,
"I pledge allegiance, to the flag, of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under Allah (God), indivisible, with liberty and justice for all".